Photographing Weddings

About Lynne...
Lynne Eodice is a writer/photographer and popular contributor to PHOTOgraphic magazine.

Photographing weddings can be a fun and rewarding experience, whether you're the official photographer for the event, or simply a relative or guest who wants to record a few memories. There are several schools of thought when it comes to shooting weddings. For example, there's a more-formal approach which involves careful posing, and is based on studio portraiture. There's also the photojournalistic approach, which means that you capture candid moments as they occur, with little or no posing of the bride and groom.

Some couples prefer to document their wedding with formal portraits that involve careful posing and studio-style lighting. Try to arrange a time for photographing the bride and groom before the ceremony begins.
Reader photo by Loren B. Brown, Redding, CA

Many couples prefer to incorporate both styles into the recording of their wedding day. Some parents want formal family portraits, while the bride and groom may prefer a more spontaneous approach.

Weddings may appear on the surface to be routine events, as thousands of them occur every weekend. In reality, weddings are social and political events filled with interesting activities, emotions, action, and drama. If you're photographing a wedding, it's up to you to try to capture some of these fleeting moments. Photojournalism often involves capturing little details that the traditional wedding photographer doesn't typically photograph, such as the emotions on people's faces, and even details like the bridal bouquet or the lace on her gown.

If you're photographing the entire event, it's a good idea to review the wedding coverage with the happy couple in advance. They can tell you what important shots they want, and you may choose to capture other spontaneous occurrences as they happen.

While most couples ask their photographer to shoot the festivities in color, it's a good idea to provide some black-and-white images as well.
Reader photo by Vera Crosby, Metamora, MI

You can begin by photographing the bride preparing for the big event. Take pictures of her having her hair and makeup done, and trying on her veil. Try to capture the look in her eyes as she sees herself being transformed. Likewise, you might want to photograph the groom and the groomsmen before the ceremony.

The main event is, of course, the most important part of the day. It's a good idea to visit the venue in advance, so you can stake out some vantage points from which to work. Ask about any restrictions that are imposed on photographers, and obey them. Be prepared to photograph the customs that occur during the wedding ceremony, and find out if flash is allowed. In many cases, you'll have to use a fast film or fast ISO setting on your digital camera instead, as flash is typically considered distracting to the ceremony.

The photojournalistic approach involves capturing interesting candid moments as they occur, without formal lighting or posing techniques.
Reader photo by John Matthews, Harrogate, IN

If the wedding is outdoors, then you can use a much slower speed, like ISO 100-400. While photographing the wedding ceremony, try to be as unobtrusive as possible while still capturing the important events, such as the exchange of rings and the kiss.